Reps to prioritise constitution amendment on resumption

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The House of Representatives is to pay special attention to efforts at amending the 1999 constitution as amended on resumption from its Christmas and New Year break, The Nation has learnt.

The Green Chamber is also thinking of fully involving the executive as well as all relevant stakeholders in the impending review of the constitution to ensure speedy passage of the relevant sections as well as concurrence from the states.

The House is worried that previous constitutional amendments failed to achieve the desired results and is therefore determined to ensure that the current process does not go the same way.

It was also learnt that the new resolve of the House adhoc committee is in line with the legislative agenda of the 9th House of Representatives and the statement of the Speaker of the House Femi Gbajabiamila that the House intends to fast track certain legislations on resumption.

These include bills that have to do with the alteration of the constitution and other important ones like the PIB which is meant to streamline the operation and governance structure of the oil sector.

A source, who is part of the process, said that the review of the constitution is a process given by law, hence to be able to have an acceptable and far-reaching amendment, stakeholders’ input must be factored in.

He said: “In accordance with the utterances of the leadership of the House that the solutions to Nigeria’s myriad of problems lie in a new constitution, the ad hoc committee on the alteration of the constitution headed by the Deputy Speaker, Rep. Idris Wase, had already called for the submission of memoranda from stakeholders and the general public in a bid to fast track the process.

“The House is very keen on a wholesome review and needs to carry all stakeholders along and the House is of the opinion that the constitution is work in progress. It is only through a review that the country can get a perfect constitution.

“Recall that the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, at a recent event spoke of his conviction that the Alteration Committee will liaise with all stakeholders to achieve a wholesome amendment of the constitution

“The Vice President also added that the alteration is not the exclusive preserve of the legislature as the executive also plays an indispensable role in the alteration.

“He said the executive arm will give complete support to the amendment process with useful suggestions and other necessary infusions and will not hesitate to assent the alteration at the end of the exercise.

“For this reason, this current review is meant to include the executive in amending it so as to avoid a situation where the president will deny assent to the bills”.

The source further said the review might take into consideration the recent suggestion by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that there must be a way to insert punishment for electoral offenders into the review of the constitution.

According to the source, the Alteration Committee might also, through some bills before it, consider revving up the election processes from the local government and state levels to the federal level through application of technology.

“Stakeholders have complained that the process is tedious as it is mostly manual and cumbersome, hence  there is a need for a full deployment of technology,” said the source.

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